When the Pittsburgh Steelers won four Super Bowls in the 1970s, you could argue that no one played a bigger role than Mike Webster. Webster was the Steelers' center, snapping the ball to the quarterback, then waging war in the trenches, slamming his body and helmet into defensive players to halt their rush.
He was a local hero, which is why the city was stunned when his life fell apart. He lost all his money, and his marriage, and ended up spending nights in the bus terminal in Pittsburgh. Webster died of a heart attack, and on Sept. 28, 2002, came the autopsy.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. And it's time to talk sports.
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MARTIN: Everyone knows that in sports players and coaches come and go, 'cause it's just business, except when it's not. NPR's Mike Pesca has some insight into some particularly bad working relationships in both the NFL and the MLB. Good morning, Mike.
MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Hello. How are you doing?
MARTIN: Hello. You and I - good relationship. Good.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. I wait all week to say time for sports.
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SIMON: Playoff time in Major League Baseball. So many games, but the Cubs aren't in any of them. However, we are joined by Howard Bryant of ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine to talk about those good clubs playing now. Thanks for being with us, Howard.
HOWARD BRYANT: Good morning, Scott. If the Cubs are what you're looking for in playoff baseball, I suggest a new team, a new century.
National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday sent a letter to 10 million of his closest friends, fans of the country's most popular sports league. Was this Goodell's attempt at finding new pen pals? Well, to explain what the letter was about and other NFL related matters, we're joined by sportswriter, Stefan Fatsis. Hey there.
We don't often think of professional athletes improving with age, but Jamie Moyer was a better pitcher in his 40s than he was in his 20s. Moyer became the oldest pitcher to win a Major League Baseball game when, in April 2012, at the age of 49 years, 150 days, he pitched the Colorado Rockies to a 5-3 win over the San Diego Padres.
There's a certain anniversary irony to the fact that Alex Rodriquez's illegal doping ban appeal hearing is taking place this week, for it was, essentially, a quarter-of-a-century ago that what we think of as the drug era in sports began.
And here A-Rod is now, 38 years old, his body in betrayal (perhaps from years of all the drugs), hitting .244, hearing boos, even at home at Yankee Stadium, yet pleading desperately for a lesser sentence at the price of suffering more embarrassing revelations — a figure of pity that no one does.